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PM Modi calls on Pope Francis in Vatican, invites him to visit India

PM Narendra Modi meets Pope Francis at The Vatican, October 30, 2021   | Photo Credit: Twitter/@narendramodi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited Pope Francis to visit India. The invite was extended during a meeting between them on Saturday morning in the Vatican.

“Had a very warm meeting with Pope Francis. I had the opportunity to discuss a wide range of issues with him and also invited him to visit India,” said the Prime Minister Modi in a social media post after the meeting.

Mr. Modi was scheduled to meet the Pope for half an hour but an informed source said the meeting went on for an hour. “Mr. Modi and the Pope discussed a wide range of issues aimd at making our planet better such as fighting climate change and removing poverty,” said the source. Mr. Modi, who gifted a silver candle stand to the Pope, was accompanied by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla.

Mr. Modi gave Pope Francis a silver candelabra and a book, The Climate Climb: India's strategy, actions and achievements. The Pope gave Mr. Modi a collection of his main teaching documents and a bronze medallion featuring a tree and the words in Italian “The desert will become a garden."

The Vatican issued a statement after the meeting. It said, “During a brief conversation, the cordial relations between the Holy See and India were discussed.” Mr. Modi also met Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States, it added.

Pope Francis has been vocal about the need to act on climate change and spoken in the past against enduring conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan. He has called upon countries to take in refugees from Afghanistan and spoken against racism and other forms of hate crimes.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is greeted by the Head of the Papal Household, Mons. Leonardo Sapienza as he arrives for a meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican on October 30, 2021.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is greeted by the Head of the Papal Household, Mons. Leonardo Sapienza as he arrives for a meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican on October 30, 2021.   | Photo Credit: AP

Pope’s call on climate change

The Pope has called on countries to act urgently to deal with the issue of climate change. On Friday, he said, “Climate change can be faced with a renewed sense of shared responsibility for our world, and an effective solidarity based on justice, a sense of our common destiny and a recognition of the unity of our human family in God's plan for the world.”

Mr. Modi became one of the leaders of the G20 who met the Pope on the sidelines of the summit in Rome. U.S. President Joe Biden met Pope Francis on Friday.

The last Papal visit to India took place in 1999 when Pope John Paul II was hosted here. Pope Francis visited Sri Lanka in 2015 and he was hosted by Myanmar and Bangladesh in 2017. But on both the occasions, India was not part of his travel plans. He made history by visiting Iraq earlier this year, which was his first visit to the war-torn country. He also visited the United Arab Emirates in 2019.

Mr. Modi’s personal invite indicates that a Papal visit to India is likely soon.

(With inputs from AP)


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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 9:36:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/pm-modi-calls-on-pope-francis-in-vatican/article37247346.ece

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